Brand Yourself: Increase Results and Become Kind of a Big Deal

By Johnson, Emma | Success, March 2014 | Go to article overview

Brand Yourself: Increase Results and Become Kind of a Big Deal


Johnson, Emma, Success


THE IDEA of the personal brand in marketing is nothing new. Donald Trump. Orville Redenbacher. Oprah Winfrey. These are all names that immediately evoke a product, a sentiment, an experience.

The strategy of applying one's personal attributes to a business isn't just for real estate, popcorn and media moguls. In fact, experts say every business should be bolstered by its owner's personal brand.

"All research suggests faces were the first logos, and people were the first brands," says Chris Malone, co-author of The Human Brand: How We Relate to People, Products, and Companies. "This notion that small business should be built on personal brands is an old idea, but still perfectly ontarget."

Businesses historically have been built on customer service and the unique qualities the proprietor brought to the operation, points out Malone, who is now a consultant after 20 years of marketing for brands such as Coca-Cola, the NBA and Procter & Gamble. "The more you are out in front and interacting with the customer, the more you are judged in human terms--that's when trust and loyalty are built."

When it comes to the how of personal branding, there are two ways to humanize a business, says Michael Fishman, a marketing consultant and founder of the Consumer Health Summit.

You can position the organization behind a person: Tony Robbins or Mario Batali are two examples. In these cases, the individual embodies the business and its mission, and his or her name and image are front and center of everything the business tackles.

The other model does not tie the organization's name to its proprietor--thus freeing it up for future ownership changes--yet the business is tightly connected to the persona of a leader. An example of this model is Zappos' Tony Hsieh.

Use these tools to bolster your personal brand: Your image. "I'm surprised how many people don't have a personal photo on their website," Fishman says. A headshot "immediately warms up any situation and puts down the roots of a trusting relationship," he says.

A blog. Yes, you may have paid a copywriter a lot of money to create a brochure, ads and web copy. But a blog post that captures your personality, humor or humility is far more likely to connect with the customer, get shared and be remembered.

Social media. Twitter, Facebook and Pintcrest are all great avenues to reach potential clients and let your personality shine. By sharing articles you feel are important, or recommendations for products you truly believe in, you curate the world through your lens and build authority in your community and industry. Encourage customers to voice their concerns via social media and respond to them publicly, showcasing the type of personal service customers can expect. The way you interact with customers and your staff is the essence of personal brands.

Videos andpodeasts. It's easy and inexpensive to create short video blog posts and podcasts, speaking your opinions or advice into a camera, or interviewing other experts or customers. In the past few years, video has proved to be the fastest-growing segment of Internet media.

Authorship. Writing books--whether through a traditional publishing house or by self-publishing--is a great way to establish credibility for your subject. And if you have a knack for prose or have hired a ghostwriter who does, a book can be a source of rich anecdotes that make customers fall in love with you.

Day-to-day operations. Personal branding is highly focused on what you share with the outside world. But how you conduct yourself and your business on a daily basis is even more critical, Malone says. The way you dress, the way you speak to customers and employees, and the attention you pay to the quality of your work are the most powerful ways you communicate what is unique and special about your organization and yourself.

In expressing your personal brand, keep in mind this advice: Be real. …

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